Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Showered With Love

I think the best thing about being in this business is having the opportunity to have a party of our own once in a while!  Having all the resources at hand to make it really special.  I really enjoy planning parties, and carrying a theme through the entire event, from the first moment that the guests receive their invitations. 
Last Sunday we had Megan's baby shower!  Her little baby girl is due in mid May.  We started planning this in December, and my office has been totally overwhelmed with  stuff for the shower!
We chose a letterpress invitation from Spark! Letterpress Love for the shower (sorry about the white blotch, but I had to blot out some private contact info there).  It was printed in taupe and lavender, and set the theme for the entire event--bird's nests, birds, bird houses--as well as the colors--lavender, pink, soft green.  The colors were inspired by the colors of Dutch Mints--my favorite candy!  I've always not only loved the wonderful minty taste, but also the soft pastel colors of these mints.

We had so much fun planning the theme and all the little touches we could add.  My kitchen staff went above and beyond the call with the luncheon!  It was amazing!  So many cute little touches.  The deviled eggs that looked like little chicks were adorable! 
Megan was kept on a "need to know" basis, which about drove her crazy!  We didn't really tell her what the whole plan was beforehand, so it was so much fun to surprise her.  Her reaction when she saw the room and all that we had done, made it all SO worthwhile!
I'm just going to post all the photos here for you to enjoy.  It was such a fun afternoon. I can't tell you all how much I appreciate the help of everyone at Aberdeen, especially Patti, Jen and Kim!  They did an amazing job with the lunch!  Kathy was a huge help setting everything up, and Julie and Becca and Kathy did such a great job of keeping everything rolling and managing everything so that I could sit down and enjoy the shower.  We have such a wonderful team at Aberdeen.  It is so much fun to work with all of our awesome coworkers!  What a pleasure.  After 13 years at Aberdeen I still love going to work every day.

Here are some photos of the shower for you to enjoy:

Apologies for the somewhat random order  of these photos!  I am a better party planner than I am a Blogger!!  :)
We served two punches, a peach-strawberry sangria and a non alcoholic fruit punch. 
My oldest daughter, Amy, was a huge help with the invitations and keeping track of the RSVP's.  She also took care of the wish cards, and the bingo cards.  Most importantly, she did the impromptu MCing of the party, and saved me from "public speaking" which is something I really don't feel comfortable with! :)
On the table as guests arrived, we had the "Wish Cards" for everyone to fill out for Kate.  It was a little idea we all had loved on Pinterest.  We have a little album for them to go into, and took photos of each of the guests at the shower to put with their wish card.  I think it will be something that Kate will treasure for years to come. 
We didn't get into a lot of shower games.  We did bingo boards for the guests to check off different gifts as they were opened.  I like that one because it gives folks something to do while the gifts are being opened.  Kacie, one of Megan's dear friends, provided some terrific little prizes for that.  Megan's mother in law, Marie, took care of the "diaper raffle" for us, and did a smashing job!
My sister in law, Kathy, helped me put together and decorate all the little birdhouse favors.  They turned out so cute.  We filled them with Dutch Mints (of course!)
Trey pin spotted the centerpieces, which really made them pop, even with the daylight outside.  He also put a lavender uplight on the trees in the corners which was a nice little touch. 
So now Megan has lots of lovely new things for her little baby!  Their living room looked like a pink bomb had hit it on Sunday night!
Thanks for indulging me, I hope you enjoy seeing our little party.  It was so much fun, I just want to do it all over again!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Letterpress Love

At Affairs, the letterpress company we deal with is Spark! Letterpress Love.  I know now where their name comes from.  I always thought it was just that they "loved" the final product--the deeply impressed print, the yummy papers--I had no idea.  Then I went with a friend to the Old Mill House Gallery and Printing Museum.   The owner, Jim Anderson, is an encyclopedia of information on printing, printing equipment, processes, and basically, everything related to the printed word.
Jim, also known as "Boe", grew up in Ybor City which is the Cuban area of Tampa where they had a big cigar industry years ago.  It's an interesting area. Incidentally, he also plays blues on the bass with other musicians, and he runs a little restaurant with authentic Cuban dishes.  In addition, he does reinactments of a freed slave named Fielder Harris at a local historical site.  Jim started out in the printing industry at age 14 and learned the trade.  He loved the old equipment and machines, and when computers started to obselete these beauties, he started buying them up.  He has some amazing machines.  My favorite is the Chandler Price press which is from the very early 1900's.  Just the sound of it is awesome.  I could listen to it purr for hours.   He has an amazing room full of old printing machines--linotype machines (used to set type automatically--a machine that works much like a computer actually! But that's another post!) printing presses of all different sizes, makes and shapes, and boxes and boxes and BOXES of type! 
So I asked Jim to explain the printing process to me so that I could take pictures and pass the information on to you, my blog readers, in hopes of conveying to you the art that this really is.  This type of printing is VERY labor intensive.  It isn't something where somebody pushes a few buttons and then goes off to do something else while it prints a thousand copies.  This requires a human to set it all up, feed it, and run it, every second that it is working.  When you receive a letterpress invitation, note card, or business card, you are actually receiving a little individual work of art--a treasure from the past that has been kept alive by a small group of dedicated, passionate individuals.

So, how does it all begin?  Before anything else can happen, the design has to be decided, and the type has to be set.  EACH LETTER is an individual piece.  You may have seen these wooden blocks with letters on them in antique stores.  The letters started out being made of wood, and later they were made from lead.

The type is taken, letter by letter, and placed into a "type stick"--a wood or metal tray which is held in one hand and the other hand picks up the individual letters and sets them into the stick to compose a line.

 Keep in mind, the line is composed backwards, and upside down!  AND all the letters are backwards. 
 The lines are then put together to make a page inside a metal frame called a "chase".  The printer uses a surface called a "stone" which is normally made from very smooth, flat, marble, to set the type which is known as "composing the type".   The surface has to be smooth and flat so that the pieces in the chase are all evenly high or low.  If the type is not set all at the same level, some letters will be darker and deeper than others, because they will pick up the ink differently on the press, and it won't look even. 
When the type is all positioned in the chase, the printer then has to fill in the spaces between the type, so that something will hold the print in place.  For this they use "furniture", little plain blocks, that are set lower than the type so that they won't pick up any ink when the chase is put in the press.
Then the printer uses a device called a "quoin" to lock the furniture and type tightly into place.  The whole assembly has to be perfectly tight, or it will slip and move when it's put on the press and the printed pieces won't all be the same, and they won't stay in nice neat lines.  The quoin is tightened with a key that expands it so that the type is all held tightly in place. 
When the chase is filled and locked with the quoins, it is called a "forme".  The forme is then placed into the press.
This is a picture of a small little tabletop press.  The circle of metal you see is the "ink disk" where the ink is placed.  The red cylinder below is the "ink roller" which when you operate the press, goes up to the ink disk and picks up the ink. The forme is below the ink disk in the sort of square area between the ink roller and the ink disk.  The individual piece of paper is placed in the area just below the handle you see on the front.  So when the operator pushes down on the handle, the whole assembly kind of clamps together, the ink roller goes up to the ink disk, picks up the ink and inks the forme, then it all pushes together to put the image on the paper.  Whew!!!  I have a little video I took of Jim operating this little press that might make all this a little more clear:

So, of course, a company that is making letterpress invitations isn't using a little tabletop model like the one you see here.  They are most likely using a much larger, heavier, floor standing motorized model.  But the initial set up work is still there,  whether it is done on a tabletop or a floor standing large press, it is still a little piece of art. 

I hope that this will give you more insight into the beauty of letterpress invitations.  Yes, they are more expensive than thermography or conventionally printed invitations, but they are so special!  When you send your guests a letterpress invitation, you are sending them a message about what your wedding is going to be--VERY special!  These are definitely refrigerator invitations!
Here is a video I found on Youtube showing a little more about the whole process, with some great commentary.

Oh, ok, one more:

So when you are choosing your invitations, whether they are thermographed, flat printed or letterpress, be sure that you think about the impression that your invitation will make when your guest opens the envelope and holds it in their hands.  What message will it convey? What will it tell your guest about your party? Will it tell your guest what to expect at your wedding? If you ask yourself these questions when you are choosing your invitations, you will find the perfect choice to send to your guests!
And remember, we are here to help you find that perfect invitation!

Cast Your Vote! Which do you like better?

When Megan and I were at the Association of Bridal Consultants conference in Baltimore last November, we found a company at the trade show that has these darling little wagons and carriages that would be PERFECT for a little ringbearer or flowergirl that weren't quite big enough to walk down the aisle themselves.  Yeah, I know, people use wagons.  Somehow the red wagon just doesn't work for me, unless the color for the wedding is red!  These are so pretty, and could be decorated with an appropriate color to match the wedding. 

So here is the controversy.  Megan likes one and I like the other!  I'm not going to tell you who likes what because I don't want to taint the results.  So we need you all to cast your vote for which one you think is the cutest/would be the best for using in a wedding.  And if you think we are nuts and should just continue with the wagons, let us know that too! 
I'm looking forward to your comments! Thanks!